Waking the next day was quite an experience for Jane; usually it was to dimly lit rooms smelling vaguely of printers ink and damp. But this morning was different; sunshine filtered through the glass windows and it was warm and dry. She stretched under the sheets and looked over at where the Joker would be if he was still there. But, as usual, he was up, dressed and gone from the room long before she even began to rouse from sleep. She knew that sleep for him was completely different from sleep for her; even before falling pregnant, Jane had needed a good seven hours each night in order to be able to function the following day. But the Joker rarely slept more than five hours and sometimes not even that. She'd known him to go for days without sleeping and still be on top form; while missing one hour of sleep, for her, rendered her semi comatose for much of the next day.
She made her way from the bed and over to the window; it was a fine morning and the promise of Spring was in the air. The Joker had been correct; from the windows it was quite clear to see the blue of the sea on the horizon. Much of the landscape that led to the sea was trees until the outskirts of Bludhaven could be seen at the very bottom of the hill that Avalon Heights was built on. She could see the dirty buildings from here and even with the blue sky above them she could see the layer of smog that covered most of the decaying city. It reminded her strongly of Gotham and, in a way that confused her, it made her feel at home.
The door to the bedroom opened and she turned to see the Joker come through with a phone in one hand and the newspaper in the other. He looked up when he saw she wasn't in bed and slapped red painted lips together.
"Admiring the view?" he inquired and crossed to a desk that she hadn't noticed the night before.
She turned and leant back against the window sill and looked around the room. It was decorated in muted red and golds with old fashioned furniture. She liked it and a warm feeling made her sigh.
"Thank you," she said and crossed to straighten the bed covers. The Joker sat at the desk, put the paper down and half turned to look over at her.
"What for?" he asked.
"For this place, for taking me out of the city to somewhere nice; for looking after me, I guess."
He shrugged and turned back to his paper. "You're my missus," he murmured. "Got to look after you."
"No, you don't," she murmured and straightened up to cross to the wardrobe. She drew out some of the new maternity dresses and laid them over the bed. "No one has ever looked after me the way you do," she said quietly and looked between the three dresses.
"Yeah, well, shut up or I may change my mind," he sniggered. "Wear the green one."
"What, so I can match your hair?" she snorted and slipped into the dress before crossing to look in the floor length mirror that stood in the corner by the door.
"You're starting to really show," he murmured and she saw his face reflected in the mirror over her shoulder. She pulled the dress in and then covered her stomach with her hands.
She turned around and frowned as she realised that the furniture took up most the floor space in the oddly shaped room.
"Where are we going to put the basket?" she asked him.
"What basket?" he tapped the phone against his chin as he read the front page of the paper.
"The Moses basket," she replied and scanned the room again.
"C'mon, I'll show you the room we could put the baby in; it's the only room that's been cleaned only. You can decorate it whatever way you want." He stood up suddenly and slipped the phone into the pocket of his purple trousers.
"Ok," she replied. "But you do know that she'll be in here until she's about a year old."
He stared at her, his head tilted to one side. "Why?"
"Easier to fed her through the night; plus I read that it cuts down on the risk of cot death. I know it should be six months, but I'd feel happier leaving it for a year before we move her to a nursery." She opened the door and went down the spiral stairs that led to the third floor.
She heard him grunting something but she merely smiled and waited for him to catch her up.
When he reached the bottom of the steps he merely grunted at her and indicated with his head to keep going. She turned and her grin widened; he hadn't realised that the baby would be with them at all.
"In here," he snarled and opened a door that she hadn't seen the night before. It was a fair sized room, although at the moment it was cluttered with all the boxes that had been bought by Jane previously. "You can do what you want; Jimmy said yellow, Mark said cream; I told them to shut up or die."
"Pink," she murmured and trailed her fingers over where they'd put the crib together for her.
"I'm not having my son growing up with pink around him; it'll warp the boy's brain."
Jane looked over her shoulder at where he was standing, his hands behind his back, his waistcoat done up and his face fully painted. She grinned again and turned her face away from him.
"Whatever you say," she murmured.
"You're laughing at me, again!" he suddenly snarled and she whirled quickly.
"I'm not laughing at you, Joker. It's just, well, it's becoming real now, isn't it?" She threw her hands out to the side. "With everything that's happened, there hasn't been much time to actually sit down and think about the fact that we're having a baby."
"Yeah…" He squinted at her and it was clear to see he was merely humouring her. "What's to think about, Janey? Why do you have to think at all? Plans are for boring people and 'them'."
She didn't ask who 'them' was; she merely raised an eyebrow at him.
"You plan," she pointed out reasonably. "You plan everything single thing you do, you just like everyone to think you don't."
"I don't plan everything," he disagreed and went out of the door. "I didn't plan on you or the baby, it just happened."
"Well, ok, but you know what I mean," she said as she followed him out of the room and down the stairs to the main floor.
"Do I?" he inquired, several steps in front of her. "Janey, shut up a moment, forget the baby and come and see this; it'll do you good I think."
"What?" She followed him down into the hallway and towards the side of the house. It opened out into a large room that was like a hothouse; the outside walls were all glass and the ceiling was glass too. Exotic plants, palms and hundreds of other flowers were grouped into pots and beds; a paved walkway meandered around the central island of foliage with a fountain that splashed water into a tiny pool.
"Oh my word," whispered Jane as she drifted into the room with wide eyes and an open mouth. "It's… amazing," she breathed as she let her fingers play through the ferns that were grouped by the bench that sat by the central island.
"It's… weird." He corrected and popped his mouth. "Why he had to have this here I have no idea, but I figured you'd like it."
"Did all the furniture belong to the previous owner as well?" she queried as she sat on the edge of the bench and leant sideways to trail her fingers through the water. She gave a gasp of delighted surprise when she saw a few tiny golden fishes dart around at her movements. She looked around when the Joker didn't reply; he was still stood in the doorway to the main house. He was leaning against the doorway, arms folded and a satisfied smirk on his face.
"Well, here's something I didn't plan on," he murmured and she saw his tongue flick at his scars.
"You. Here; home," he shrugged. "Damn, I'm good."
Jane let out a laugh at his expression and beckoned him to come and join her on the bench. "Well, for fear of inflating your ego any more, yes, you are pretty damn good."
"You know it," he smirked at her and kicked himself away from the doorway and crossed to her. He sat down beside her, spread his legs and then leant forward till his arms were stretched along his legs; he clasped his hands and then lowered his head slightly before turning it to look up at her. "Are you happy, Janey?"
"You know it," she threw his phrase back at him with a contented grin that told him everything.
"Well, who'd have though it," Jane whistled through her teeth as she stood in the kitchen nibbling on a slice of toast as she watched the TV on the counter.
"He'd had it anyway," the Joker sneered from the table. He had a blueprint spread across the table, four beer bottles holding down the corner and a knife point downwards stuck by the side. He was dressed in just his shirt and trousers, the sleeves of his shirt were rolled up and his hair was a messy tangle as he leaned over the blueprint.
"He wasn't that old," she replied casually and reached for her other slice. It was almost a week since he'd moved her in and she was comfortable and secure in the new house. It had taken her awhile to find her way around the house and gardens, but now she knew it like the back of her hand.
"I'm not saying he was old, I'm saying he couldn't hack it anymore," he snorted still not looking up.
"Well, I'm not surprised really," she replied and watched as the screen showed Commissioner Gordon as he hurried from the car into the M.U.C's new department building. He was refusing to answer questions about his resignation, but his face was lined and his hair was prematurely greying.
"Mmmm?" He didn't really sound that interested but Jane carried on anyway.
"How many times now has he had his wife and family affected? If I were him I'd be high tailing it out of the state too."
"Well, they'll soon find a new Commissioner; one who'll be just as inept as he was, don't worry, Janey."
"He wasn't inept," she replied quietly and frowned when the face of Ron came onto the screen.
"Yes, he was…."
"Shh!" She interrupted him and listened as the commentator informed them with deadpan expression that the Detective was still missing nearly a week after the kidnapped children were released. He went on to tell them how Deever Tweed, the kidnapper had been shot dead at the scene, but no mention of the Joker was made.
Jane reached forward and switched off the TV before turning to look at where the Joker was still leaning over the blueprints, but he was looking up at her through his green hair.
"You know where he is, don't you?" she asked and felt a cold lump form in her throat that sank straight to her stomach.
"Yes, give or take a few miles due to the current in the Sprang," he replied and licked his lips; his face gave nothing away as he watched her.
"You killed him, didn't you?"
"You knew I would," he replied and his voice gave nothing away either.
"Yes, I suppose I did," she sighed and bit her tongue against the sudden surge of tears.
"Don't cry for him, Janey," he whispered and straightened up from the table to fold his arms.
"I'm not," she muttered and shook her head. "Yes, I am, I am crying for him. He wasn't a bad… oh, damn." She sank down onto the chair and put her toast on his blueprint to rub at her eyes. He snarled and reached forward to push it off the blueprint and onto the floor. A sticky jam mark lay on the paper where the toast had been. She stared at the mark and then looked up at him.
"I guess it's you I'll be dismembering," he muttered and no humour lay in his voice or face at all.
"Sorry," she muttered and tried to wipe it away with her wet finger, but it smudged the lines and he came round the table to yank her hand away from the fragile drawing.
"Janey, just… just leave it."
"What are you blowing up this time?" she said blankly and stared at where his fingers were still gripped round her wrist tightly.
"I'm not gonna make it better for you," he said suddenly. "I didn't want you to know; but I can't cut you off from the world. Don't make it harder than it is, Janey, just forget him. He wasn't quite what you thought he was anyway."
"I know," she replied and shrugged. "Will you kill the Commissioner and his family?"
"There's no fun in that," he replied.
"But there was fun in killing, Ron?" she asked and immediately regretted asking it.
"Your idea of fun, and my idea of fun aren't the same," he muttered and lifted his other hand, hesitating slightly before he ran it over her hair stopping at the back of her neck; he cradled his hand around her neck, his skin warm against hers.
"I don't know how it makes me feel," she admitted and took a deep breath. "You'd already told me you were going to kill him… it's just… it's…"
"I don't know," she sighed and looked down at the smudge on the blueprint.
He bent forwards slightly till his mouth was right by her ear and he slid his hand around her neck till he could grip her chin.
"He would never have left you alone," he breathed into her ear. "He would never have left our kid alone. He didn't know where the lines were any more and I'm not taking any more chances with you. He was nothing more than a shadow that loomed over you, but he had to be erased."
"And you erased him," she whispered. "For me," her voice was completely devoid of emotion.
"No, not for you," he muttered. "For me."
"You?" Janey turned her head in his hold and found her eyes caught by his black ones.
"Yes, for me; I did it for me," he said quietly. "Not for you, for me; it just happens that in killing him it does you a favour too, that's all."
"Oh." Jane didn't know quite what to say to that.
"Janey, he was a cop, a dirty one too; most of them are, but he was like a splinter. The problem with splinters that get in deep is that if you don't remove them they can fester. I wasn't going to let him fester and, yes, it was fun killing him. But you can be slightly eased with the knowledge that, because of you, it was quick and not nearly as drawn out as I'd have liked."
Jane blinked at the depth of coldness in his eyes; she knew him, she knew what he was capable of and it still made her shudder.
"Ummm," Jane really didn't know what to say to that and he sensed it easily.
"Forget him, Janey; nothing can touch you here. You're safe here."
He stood up abruptly and went back to the blueprint. He frowned at the mark, shifted the bottles to one side and rolled it back up.
"I'm going out; Jimmy's around in the garden somewhere if you need anything."
Jane nodded, knowing that it was pointless in asking where he was going. She watched as he left the room without looking back. She sighed heavily and folding her arms on the table buried her head in them and cried.
Ron's body was found a week later washed ashore four miles down the river; the news only showed a black body bag on a stretcher and again, no mention of the Joker was made. Jane assumed that the Joker had either not carved his face, or they weren't releasing any more details.
She sat on the sofa in the Snug with the dogs around her as she watched the images flashing before her eyes; but this time she didn't cry.
Five months later….
"Are you absolutely sure?" Jane asked and looked up nervously at where the Joker was stood beside her.
"No question about it," the Doctor smiled at them. There was something vaguely familiar with the scarred visage of the young man stood before him. His hair was black as night, his face was handsome despite the scars to his cheeks and his teeth were discoloured when he spoke; but the doctor could smell no nicotine about him.
"Two?" Jane questioned again. "You're sure?"
"Janey, I'm no doctor, but even I can see there's two in there," came the dry sarcastic drawl of the Joker.
"Oh, my," Jane sighed. "Can you tell what they are?"
"Well, yes, actually, it's quite clear. You have a boy and a girl, otherwise called Fraternal Twins; two eggs were fertilized at the same time, as opposed to one egg splitting."
"That sounds like you, Janey, never do anything by half, do you?" sniggered the Joker.
"But at least I was right, we're having a girl."
"And a boy, so I was right too," came the fast reply of the Joker. He placed his hands on her shoulders and squeezed tightly. "You'll be filling up two rooms straight off, Janey."
Jane watched the monitor before her as the Doctor continued scanning her stomach and mapping the results.
"I would like to see you again in a weeks time to see how you're progressing. But your blood pressure is spot on and there was no sign of sugar in your urine." The Doctor finished scanning, wiped Jane's distended stomach and then turned away as the Joker helped Jane to swing around on the bed and get down.
They made another appointment and then went out into the waiting room where Jimmy was waiting.
"Two!" Jane said the moment she saw him. "I'm having two!"
Jimmy gaped at her and then at her stomach. "That's why you're so big!" he said and grinned at her.
"I am not!" Jane said indignantly.
"Yeah, you are, Janey. If they popped a line on you they could send you up as one of those advertising balloons," the Joker cackled and shoved his hands into his pockets.
"Go to hell," Jane snapped and stomped away, which unfortunately was more of a waddle than a stomp. It didn't help that all she could hear was the sniggering of the Joker behind her.
Two babies? How was she going to cope with two? She'd just got her head around the fact that she was going to have one and now they were telling her it was two?
She was seven months pregnant, her stomach was so big she could no longer see her feet and her back ached every minute of the day and she still had two months to go. She stopped in the middle of the corridor and put her hands on her lower back.
"Hurting, sugar?" came a low murmur in her ear.
"Yes," she admitted and let him move her hands to replace them with one of his. His fingers worked at the muscles of her lower back as he continued to walk them both down the corridor. She sighed as he hit the right spots.
"Two's fine," he murmured and she could hear him chewing on the inside of his scars. "We could have Jackson and Jessica, although I still like Silas for a boy."
"Sounds like something you'd find on a farm," she said vaguely.
"You're worried," he stated and popped his lips.
"I thought one was going to be hard enough; how do I cope with two?"
"You don't; at least, not on your own. My super strength, ultra-superior sperm and your over active body did this, so I guess that means we cope together."
"Your ultra-superior sperm?" she laughed and looked at him sideways in disbelief.
"Sugar, I knocked you up twice in one night, sounds pretty superior to me," he sniggered.
"Actually, if anyone is ultra-superior here, it's me for producing two eggs at the same time."
"No, sugar that's just you being awkward again," he murmured and winked at her.
"Well, at least we have the room for them," she sighed and saw Jimmy come up on her other side and wink at her as he went on faster to get the car for them.
"It's gonna be… fun," he finished and nodded his head.
"Yeah, once the sleepless nights are over, it'll be fun," she whispered, an image of a tiny boy and girl with dirty blonde curly hair and wicked grins made her smile softly.
"C'mon, sugar, let's get you back to Bludhaven, it's a long drive."
She looked round at him and her smile widened. He had dyed his hair and his face was free of make-up and looked young. He wore his black reefer jacket and black cargo trousers and, although it didn't show, she knew that concealed on him in various places were guns and knives.
He smirked at her sideways and waggled his eyebrows at her making her laugh.
"It's gonna be fine, isn't it?" she said and felt his arm curl around her waist protectively.
"Sugar, it's gonna be more than fine," he replied.
Technically this is the end of the story, but I can't just leave them there, so I'm going to carry on with a peek or two over the years in their lives.
I know it's been ages and I'm sorry, a lot have happened here since March in the way of hospitals and moving house. We're settled now and hopefully I can get this finished up quite quickly. Thanks to everyone who has kept with me and sent me PM's and reviews, without that I'd have left this ages ago.